The Very Best of Us

People come with a huge range of intelligence, skills, and abilities.

There is such a thing as general intelligence, I believe, although it’s probably not quite what most of us think it is. Even non-human animals vary in intelligence and talents. Alex, the smartypants African gray parrot, thought that another African gray he knew was stupid, and said so. The Great Ape researcher Frans de Waal said of one of his chimps that he was “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”, compared to other chimps. And we all know of very bright dogs, cats, and birds (we see them on YouTube and Facebook) and some that are not so bright.

But we love our animals whether or not they are especially smart. We all know, too, that humans are the same, and they don’t need to be brilliant to be lovable. Nor does their IQ tell us how much we should love them or value them.

Those highest on the evolution scale
are business owners.

So there does seem to be a general ability range for people, and some people do well at many of the things they try, others less so. But there are also special talents. Some people are very good at, say, chemistry. Others have artistic talent. But the thing I want to point out here is that, in spite of the existence of a range of general ability, talent in one area does not automatically endow one with talent in another. Virtuosity in business management does not translate to the violin, or much of anything else.

For Republican conservatives, those highest on the evolution scale are the owners of successful businesses. (Yes, I know, but try to take them seriously for a moment.) Those of us who never had an interest in business are inclined to guffaw at the thought. Those of us who see a broader picture were startled during the recent election campaign to find that not only are business owners lionized as the ultimate human, but that they view virtually half of humanity (“The 47%”) as useless drones who don’t do their part. This is the Ayn Rand Superman philosophy, which can be safely ignored after your high school paper on the subject.

The Ayn Rand Superman philosophy
can be safely ignored after your
high school paper on the subject.

It is an untenable idea on several grounds. To take one clear example, there have been and continue to be many artists and others who were unable to escape poverty during their lives, but whose works were later recognized as masterpieces, and became highly valued. Vincent van Gogh lived alone in a small room and often lacked the money to buy paint and canvas. Yet today his paintings are all valued in tens of millions of dollars. Was van Gogh, the poverty stricken painter, a worthless drone? Hardly. Nor are others who have little money, no matter their occupation.

Billions of people are successful at what they do, whether or not they are properly compensated for their work. They may be architects or doctors, taxi drivers, sales clerks, or a parent at home, but they do conscientious and dependable work, and are a credit to their community, their culture, and their nation. They are not worthless drones, as conservative Republicans say, even if they have no connection to owning a business. Neither are they worthless drones if they can’t find a decent job.

This conservative Republican poisonous attitude
is arrogant to the extreme, and
cannot be defended on any grounds.

The conservative Republican superiority complex is indefensible, and actually quite amusing when you realize they are talking about business owners, a rather mundane occupation, rather than, say, orchestra conductors or superb athletes. A belief in one’s innate superiority and all others’ inferiority is hubris in the extreme, the kind of thing we saw in books about race a century ago. Written almost exclusively by white Englishmen of the upper class, you can guess who was at the pinnacle of creation in every such book. Conservatives’ evaluations of others are just like that. Not only can one not realistically claim that business ownership is the epitome of human achievement, but the notion that all others are useless is not only patently untrue, it is morally indefensible.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great post and thanks for articulating the self-serving, self-congratulatory bias couched within the Republican agenda.


  2. Thank you.


  3. I’m wondering if everybody is a successful business owner and voting for the GOP, who is left to actually work?
    Top post as usual.


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